Themes

Failed communication

The short story “A Horse and Two Goats” by R. K. Narayan illustrates the theme of failed communication. The two main characters, the American man and Muni, are under the impression that they are communicating with each other. However, they do not speak the other’s language and, consequently, their dialogue transforms into separate monologues. 

Muni does not understand the American and only speaks Tamil. Despite seeing that the American does not speak Tamil, Muni continues, assuming he is understood. The American, on the other hand, only speaks English and also assumes that the old man understands him: “ ‘Please, please, I will speak slowly. Please try to understand me’ ” (p. 185, ll. 28-29). Furthermore, both men are stubborn, as they...

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